Female soldier found dead at Fort Hood, the same Army base in Texas where Vanessa Guillén was murdered
Combat engineer Pvt. Ana Basaldua Ruiz died Monday at the base, Fort Hood said in a news release.
Basaldua Ruiz, 20, who was from Long Beach, California, joined the Army in July 2021 and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division since December that year.
Officials did not reveal how she died but said an investigation is underway into the circumstances.
The base said the chain of command is in contact with Basaldua Ruiz’s family and providing support and resources to her family and those who worked with her.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of PV2 Ana Basaldua Ruiz, and we extend our sympathies to her father, mother, and her sister,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Sullivan, commander of the 91st Engineer Battalion. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time. She was an exceptional teammate that will truly be missed.”
Fort Hood shared an update Thursday, saying the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division confirmed that “at this point in the investigation into the death of Pvt. Ana Basaldua Ruiz no foul play is evident, and will remain under investigation.”
"Army CID will continue to conduct a thorough investigation and gather all evidence and facts to ensure they discover exactly what transpired. Information related to any possible harassment will be addressed and investigated fully," the base said in the statement.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) held a news conference Friday at the main gate of Fort Hood demanding an FBI investigation into Basaldua Ruiz’s death.
LULAC leaders said the soldier's parents stated their daughter had complained about repeated sexual harassment by other service members, including one of her superiors.
“For the Army to say no foul play presumes facts that have not yet been brought forth. For the Army to say no foul play would also indicate a tone deafness to the concerns of the father and the mother of Ana Fernanda Basaldua Ruiz who stated that she had been the target of alleged sexual harassment — repeated and consistent sexual harassment by other service members up to and including an immediate superior to who she reported,” David Cruz, the Communications Director of LULAC, said.
Fort Hood was cast under intense scrutiny when Guillén, a 20-year-old soldier, disappeared from the military base in Bell County on April 22, 2020.
Her family quickly organized rallies outside the base and launched a #FindVanessaGuillén hashtag social media campaign.
Two months later, partial human remains were found along the Leon River in Belton and were identified as those of Guillén.
Authorities determined that the soldier suspected of killing Guillén was Spc. Aaron Robinson, who fatally shot himself as police moved to arrest him. Cecily Aguilar, a woman authorities say was Robinson’s girlfriend, pleaded guilty to federal charges last November, accused of helping him dispose of Guillén’s body and lying to investigators.
Before she went missing, Guillén had told her family she had been sexually harassed by a supervisor.
Her story led to another social media campaign with survivors of sexual abuse and harassment in the military sharing their stories online using the #IAmVanessaGuillén hashtag and demanding change.
An independent review following her death found that the command climate at Fort Hood created a “permissive environment for sexual assault and sexual harassment." Several investigations sparked by Guillén's death led to the removal of 14 base leaders in December 2020.
Her death also inspired legal reforms to help and protect victims of sexual assault in the military.
Key parts of the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act became law in December 2021, including criminalizing sexual harassment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, improving how certain officials respond to sex-related offenses through independent investigations, and removing the decision to prosecute sexual misconduct cases from service members’ chains of command.